To increase milk supply many mothers go to great lengths with much concern when there may not be a problem. So, first of all, is your supply really low? Make sure you really need to increase your supply. Sometimes the milk supply is just fine and the baby and mom are miscommunicating. Babies can be fussy at the breast, eating more frequently, not interested in breast feeding sometimes due to ear infections, colds, or mom’s period causing the breast milk to change flavor or smell, etc. So be sure to explore all the possibilities and your concerns with a trained lactation consultant before you jump to conclusions and try to increase milk supply.
To Increase Milk Supply
Feed your little one more frequently – It’s all supply and demand, the more your baby demands from your body the more your body should produce.
Pumping extra – Use your pump in between feedings 2-3 times per day. Again demanding more from your body should increase your supply. See my Best Breastfeeding Supplies page for recommended pumps and handy breastfeeding items.
Avoid supplements and pacifiers – When you offer a supplement after breast feedings, your body will not know that your infant wants more milk. Babies also tend to take milk from a bottle whether they’re hungry or not. Pacifier use can decrease the amount of time suckling at the breast, which in turn will decrease milk supply.
Pacifiers also change the shape of your infant’s palate, which in turn changes the way your baby moves her tongue. This can cause damage to mom’s nipple, pain with breast feedings, and also decreases the amount of milk your infant gets from your breast.
Here’s a Tip
If your infant’s health care provider recommends supplements because your child is losing too much weight, then be sure to pump your breasts after breastfeeding. This will tell your body that your infant needs more milk. Pump for 10 minutes after feeding – even if you’re just getting drops to begin with – the supply will slowly increase with each pumping.
Offer both breasts – Be sure to offer both breasts every feeding. You can even switch breasts during the same feeding, offering a breast 2-3 times per feeding. Increasing demand can increase supply. Stimulate your breasts by gently massaging before and during feedings. Make sure your infant is latched well to make sure your breasts are drained completely with each feeding. You can also help drain the milk completely by using a technique called compression. See Dr. Newman video showing compression
Consider trying a galactagogue – A galactagogue is an herb or precompressionscription medication that will increase a mom’s milk supply. Some common galactagoges are herbal remedies Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle and prescription medications Reglan and Domperidone. Learn more about them by clicking the preceeding links.
Look at the medications and substances you’re taking. Some medications and substances may decrease milk supply. How is your health? Are you anemic? After six weeks postpartum are you still bleeding vaginally? Are your thyroid levels normal? Have you ever had breast surgery or trauma? All of these possibilities should be explored when a mom’s milk supply is not responding to the above techniques. Make an appointment with a lactation consultant to explore these issues.
If you do feel that you need help to increase your milk supply, seek help from a lactation consultant.